Entrepreneurship requires intense dedication and sacrifice to succeed. The stakes are even higher for women entrepreneurs, who continue to seek equal treatment and opportunities. We often have to work harder to prove our value often without the same resources and support as men. Yet, women lead the way in small-business ownership, highlighting our ability to rise to the challenge.
There are no finite steps on how to become a successful woman in business. But there are some wonderful examples of women who have taken the reigns and created their own path. These three women entrepreneurs' stories may just provide the inspiration you need to get through tough times in business and keep going.
Providing a Healthy Alternative
Preya Patel Bhakta is president of Elli Quark, a company that produces a clean yogurt alternative. Bhakta was inspired by her lineage (she comes from a family of women entrepreneurs), a love of food and a desire to promote healthier choices.
“Of the 600,000 food items in US grocery stores, 80 percent have added sugar," she says. "I created Elli Quark because there wasn't a healthy option in the dairy category that offered a truly clean label."
However, she soon learned that breaking into the established dairy business as a woman entrepreneur with no generational ties to the industry was an uphill battle.
“I contacted just about every dairy facility I could get a hold of. It was difficult for someone outside of the industry to be taken seriously, especially with a product that nobody had heard of before," Bhakta explains.
Bhakta took a big risk and invested in her own production machinery.
“Looking back, it was the best decision, as we now have open capacity and priority on our production runs, allowing us to scale the company," she says.
In the end, Bhakta's investment in clean ingredients and unyielding quality standards got her through tough times in business.
Taking on an Industry-Wide Business Model Challenge
Kelly Goto is the CEO and founder of GotoResearch, a UX design, research and strategy firm that gives companies a deeper understanding of their customers. She is also the daughter of entrepreneurs who encouraged her to build her own business.
“I've had my own design accounts since fifth grade and have been earning money through freelance work most of my life," she explains.
Goto joined the ranks of successful women entrepreneurs when she recognized an opportunity after the dot com bubble burst in 2001. But her work was not free of hurdles.
“In web design, there are very few accounts to be won. Almost every project is a one off. If there is more work, usually companies will hire in-house," Goto explains. "So this is an unsustainable model for most small firms unless they have alternate revenue sources such as development or hosting."
Despite years of continuous growth, in 2016 , “we hit our all-time high revenue and our all-time low profitability."
At that point, she realized they needed to change their approach.
There is a reason why women entrepreneurs are growing in number. We may face more obstacles to success, but when it comes to perseverance, we remain unmatched.
“Although we were always doing UX research, we created a separate research division of the company a few years ago to bring in ongoing revenue," Goto says.
Ultimately, Goto prevailed by building a lean team who's meaningful work stands out.
“We had to scale back resources and lower overhead to reach our 'optimal level,'' she says. "We find if we keep this group of 12 to 16 people busy, our overall profit is the same or greater at the end of the year then when we had 28+ resources.
“I am fortunate to work with the smartest, most talented and dedicated people I've ever known," Goto continues. "The work we're doing will hopefully change the world."
Making People's Lives Better
Janesse Bruce is the CEO and founder of meQuilibrium , a resilience training platform to improve outcomes in stress management, health and productivity. Bruce had successfully launched several magazines focused on the growing market interest in well-being before she had an idea to start her own business.
“By the early 2000s I saw the opportunity to go beyond talking and writing about well-being and to apply the science of resilience to enable individuals to develop well-being thinking and behavior on a SaaS platform, at great scale," she explains.
At first, identifying customers who would engage with the platform was tricky. Finding clients who “would take the chance with us to distribute our digital resilience coaching platform to their employee base," was a challenge, she says.
But Bruce's passion for improving people's lives married with scientific and technological research eventually gained attention. Building products that make people's lives better was key—but developing an analytic platform that harnesses science and technology to fill market need, became the winning strategy that saw meQuilibrium through tough times.
There is a reason why women entrepreneurs are growing in number. We may face more obstacles to success, but when it comes to perseverance, we remain unmatched. Successful women entrepreneurs are able to find the tools we need to get through tough times in business and come out on the other end, thriving.
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